Nothing to Lose by Ending Cuba Blockade
George W. Bush has bungled policy in the Persian Gulf but the president could make history by ending the ineffective nearly half century US blockade against Cuba, its next-door neighbor to the southeast.
The blockade does more un-American things than any other piece of legislation. It takes away the rights of business people to sell their products and services; prohibits US citizens from freely traveling; blocks academic, scientific, artistic, religious and sports exchange; and even goes to the extreme of punishing companies and individuals from third countries that try to maintain normal relations with companies and institutions in both Cuba and the United States.
On the business side, ending the blockade would bring new billion dollar markets for US agricultural producers and other exporters; would be a boom for US travel agents, shipping and airline companies; and would pave the way for US investment in such strategic areas as oil exploration and the biotech industry.
And you know what; the Republicans wouldn’t lose a single vote by dropping the archaic blockade because the special interest lobby that runs southern Florida politics considers the Democrats to be just short of commies. They will never forgive John F. Kennedy for not nuking Cuba to get Fidel Castro.
When Richard Nixon went to China in February 1972 and met with Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong he made a calculated move that showed Republican Party pragmatism. While it didn’t save his presidency (with the Watergate scandal on the horizon), it has received bipartisan support ever since and is the one positive act Nixon is universally remembered for.
Bill Clinton’s decision to put the disastrous war against Vietnam in the past and establish relations in 1995 with the Southeast Asian country has also proven universally popular. In fact, President Bush just visited Hanoi and the whole affair may even push Monica L. out of the US history books.
ABSURD AND INEFFECTIVE POLICY
US Sgt. Carlos Lazo, an Iraq veteran, was barred from visiting his two sons in Cuba. The late Cuban musician Ibrahim Ferrer was denied a visa to attend the 2004 Grammy awards in Los Angeles, in which he won the prize for the Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album at the age of 77. These are just two of uncountable examples that defy all logic.
Likewise, Cuba’s need to make purchases thousands of miles away when the Gulf Coast is only a day or two passage by sea makes no sense whatsoever.
The time worn argument used by the last ten US administrations is that the blockade is designed to force a collapse or overthrow of the Cuban government or get its people to cry uncle. Nothing could be further from reality.
The Soviet Union, beacon of the Socialist world, disappeared but the Cuban revolution did not, despite losing its trade partners and facing a worse-than-1930s depression with crippling shortages and other severe limitations.
Hundreds of CIA organized or supported terrorist acts have not toppled the government led by Fidel Castro either. To the contrary, the country’s institutions have repeatedly shown their ability to cope with difficult scenarios, the latest being the sudden surgery on the Cuban president last July and his prolonged recovery.
The blockade has clearly flunked the test and Cuba is on the rebound with expanded trade and investment with Venezuela, China and Canada.
Now, Bush, like Nixon, could do something positive to go down in history. Otherwise, he will leave office in January 2009 with the only legacy of having needlessly sacrificed so many US and Iraqi lives under the guise of combating terrorism.